France, Germany support designating Hezbollah soldiers as terrorists

(JTA) – Germany and France are supporting Britain’s drive to proscribe Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist entity.

“Given the decisions that Hezbollah has taken and the fact that it has fought extremely hard against the Syrian population, I confirm that France will propose to place Hezbollah’s military wing on the list of terrorist organizations,” French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius told reporters on Wednesday in Amman, Jordan.

An unnamed French official told Reuters that the increased help Hezbollah had given to Syrian President Bashar Assad encouraged Paris to rethink its opposition to the plan.

Britain said Tuesday that it asked the European Union to put Hezbollah’s military arm on the terror list, citing evidence of the Islamist group’s involvement in an attack that killed five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver last July in Burgas.

On Wednesday, German diplomats told Reuters that Berlin also would support Britain’s request, which will be discussed in early June by a special EU working group.

According to reports, France had opposed the move, as it would damage the European Union’s ties with Lebanon, where Hezbollah is a major political force.

Britain listed Hezbollah’s military wing as a terrorist entity in 2008. In 2004, the Netherlands became the first country in the European Union to outlaw Hezbollah.

The United States has called on the European Union to follow the Dutch example – a move that counterterrorism experts say would severely limit Hezbollah’s ability to launder money through European banks and raise funds in European Muslim communities.

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